Northern Lights and Taxes

Most of Alaska is having a great week for Northern Lights and Thursday was the first I got to get out and see them. I took the pictures below from my drive way. I'm not all schmancy with the shutter speed or anything but I'll show you what I was able to get.

 To give you an idea of the size, the big tree that it's lined up against is next to a 2 story house.

The white spots are falling snow. 

You can kind of see how it changes length, width and intensity. 

All of these were shot in probably under a minute while I stood out in my drive way with my footy pajamas on. :) It's a little too cold to be out there much longer. 

And on to the taxes.

Tax season is upon us!!!! I am the kind of person that loves to get their taxes done ASAP. I know several of my friends already have theirs in and now they are just waiting for their returns.  I do the taxes for my family every year. I started doing that when my husband got audited for taxes he had done by a company that were wrong.  

I use Turbo Tax at home and that way I can make sure that every little piece of tax paperwork gets in the system. I have a drawer that I put all the tax paper work in as the year goes by. When tax season comes I pull it all out, organize it, put it into the computer, and then file it in the file cabinet. Done. Usually I am ahead of the W-2's and I just wait for them to finish up the year. 

Out biggest problem is not actually in filing taxes. It's spending the return. 

This year I am putting it out there in writing to force myself into spending it wisely. The first things we will spend it on are:

1. Medical bills. We have a few hundred in medical expenses from a procedure my husband had done that we thought would be covered by insurance but ended up not. We pay a little every month but it will be nice to have it gone.

2. Credit card debt. We had an issue last summer with the car rental company we had reserved our car with and ended up paying several hundred more than we had planned on. We were doing pretty good at paying it off until Joel lost his job. Then it had to go towards things like groceries and gas.

3. Getting ahead on the mortgage. We want to pay our mortgage every 2 weeks but Joel only gets paid 2x every month so we are going to set it up that way and try to be 1 or 2 payments ahead. That way if something unexpected happens we will have a little cushion.

4. Car insurance. This is sadly how we pay our car insurance. It is renewed every 6 months. One payment is due  at tax season and the other is due during when PFD's come out.

AFTER all that is paid for, IF there is any $ left, here are the things I WANT to get:

1. Furniture. We have bought almost everything in our house off of Craigslist. There is nothing wrong with that and, in fact, if we can find the right pieces on Craigslist we will get "new" stuff there too. What I am looking for is furniture that is versatile, works with my home and is a little smaller scale than what we have now. We will sell what we have and that will help towards the purchase price too.

2. Portable computer. I'm not sure if I want something like an Ipad, a Netbook, or a full out Laptop yet but it would be so nice to be able to take my Scentsy business with me on the go.

3. A greenhouse. Oh, how I yearn for one of these every year! My husband probably does too since I use the garage as one every spring :) I would like to have one set up with one of the little solar panels that Costco sells for air circulation, heaters, lights, and timers. It would be great if this was a self sustaining building where we are not spending a big electric bill just to run it.

4. Chickens. This would be a later purchase since it is still too cold outside for chickens. The amount of eggs we go through in this house is ridiculous! It would be nice to be a little more self sustaining this year. We have also considered making the greenhouse heated through the winter and keeping the chickens in there as well. for thought.

5. Fruiting plants. We know a great little greenhouse/ U-Pick farm out in the valley that actually has the trees they sell in the ground, producing fruit every year. It is the only place I feel comfortable dumping $100 into a tree. The two trees we have int he back yard now are from them. The have produced every year. We have never gotten any other trees to fruit at all! We also have an Arctic Kiwi set we got from them that is beautiful and fruited the first year we had it. The other plant we have from them is a Gooseberry bush and it gives off a TON of fruit. I don't see a reason not to have plants that give a little back in the end after all your hard work.

6. Auto stuff. Our windshields could be replaced, thanks to all the gravel on the roads during break up, and on those chilly negative temperature nights it would be WONDERFUL to have auto start.

And of course BEFORE #1 on both lists is to SAVE some of it!!!!!!!!! 

What about you? What are your plans for your tax return (if you get one) and what do you do to prepare your taxes? 

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